About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Review: Stella Dallas


Barbara Stanwyck plays the title social climber who gets involved with John Boles, not long after reading in the papers that he has called off wedding plans with Barbara O’Neil because his family just lost most of its money, and he felt she deserved better. Everything goes swimmingly between Stella and her new man, and they even have a daughter together, whilst O’Neil has also moved on with another man and had two children. Unfortunately, their class difference and Stella’s deep insecurities eventually put too much of a strain on the couple, so that when he gets a job offer in another state, Stella stays behind, ending their relationship, though Stella refuses to divorce him. She also starts spending more time with her boozy pal Ed Munn (Alan Hale), whilst Boles gets back with the now widowed O’Neil and wants a divorce from Stella. Stella’s daughter grows up, now played Anne Shirley, and it is around this time that Stella starts to realise the negative impact (or what she perceives as such) she has on her daughter’s happiness as her daughter takes up with a rich man of her own.

 

This 1937 soap opera from director King Vidor (“The Mask of Fu Manchu”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “War and Peace”) is pretty solid stuff and holds up rather well all these years later. It would be, however, a much lesser film without the fine talents of Alan Hale, Barbara O’Neil, Anne Shirley, and especially Barbara Stanwyck. Personally, I prefer Stanwyck in her steelier, stronger roles, but she’s a helluva actress who could do anything, really. Bette Davis would’ve been too bitchy and imperious, Shelley Winters wasn’t around in 1937, so Stanwyck was the right actress for the job here. I do wish, however, that Stella were made to be more likeable. The film ultimately wants us to see the good in Stella, and yes she does do something rather selfless eventually, but for the most part she is a wannabe social climber. Stanwyck and the very fine Anne Shirley (better than most actresses her age would’ve been in the part) do a good job of making you understand and ultimately sympathise with the deeply insecure Stella, but it’s hard work getting there. I admire the filmmakers for giving us a protagonist who isn’t always faultless, but I don’t think it was necessary to have made it such hard work to make her likeable. Meanwhile, a wonderfully immature Alan Hale almost steals the show as a heavy-drinking would-be suitor for Stella. Almost creepily gregarious and fun-loving, he’s a big kid and that’s not usually a good thing in a potential suitor. He’s basically a drunken loser who isn’t as charming or fun as alcohol makes him think he is, and one look on Shirley’s face lets you know that he’s not just a harmless drunk, either. Barbara O’Neil is immediately wonderful and warm, the actress being best-known for later playing Scarlett O’Hara’s mother in “Gone With the Wind”.

 

The one real downsides to the film (aside from the almost Prissy-esque giggling black maid character) come in the form of John Boles, a tedious and bland leading man, and a really choppy narrative. Otherwise, this is solid stuff and probably even worthier to those who enjoy this kind of soap opera material. I think Stanwyck should’ve won the Oscar for this, and probably a few other performances in her career, too, but had to be content with a mere nomination in this case. See it for Barbara, she was a helluva fine talent. Based on a novel by Olive Higgins Prouty (“Now, Voyager”), the screenplay is by Sarah Y. Mason (“Little Women”) and Victor Heerman (“Little Women”).

 

Rating: B-

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Freelancers


Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson stars as one of a trio of former delinquents turned cops, in his case he’s the son of a cop (Andre Royo) who was killed right in front of him. He ends up joining a special task force headed by his father’s former partner, played by Robert De Niro. De Niro makes it pretty clear early on that he and his cronies are all corrupt, including Forest Whitaker, De Niro’s right-hand man who is now a hopeless, pitiful drug-addict. At the other end of the scale, one of 50’s buddies is mentored by an honest African-American cop (Robert Wisdom), who tries to make a difference, by sometimes letting a petty young crim walk, hoping that giving him a chance will save him from becoming a career crim. In his final role, Pedro Armendariz Jr. turns up as a drug kingpin, whilst Vinnie Jones turns up as a middle-man criminal, and Dana Delany plays the widow of a deceased DA, who tries to steer 50 Cent clear of the bad eggs on the force.

 

Further proof that Robert De Niro should either put more thought into his film projects or quit acting altogether to focus on his other interests rather than completely destroy his reputation. This 2012 corrupt cop film comes armed with a lot of bad omens; Dubious company Lionsgate involved, direct-to-DVD mainstay ‘50 Cent’ among the cast and producers credits, his “Gun” director Jessy Terrero (who also directed “Soul Plane”) at the helm, Oscar-winner and “Battlefield Earth” co-star Forest Whitaker in support…I knew this one wasn’t going to be the “Citizen Kane” of corrupt cop flicks. Unfortunately, it’s not even “Colours”, “Pride and Glory”, or “Internal Affairs”. It’s much closer to “Street Kings”, I’m afraid.

 

Beyond incriminating photos, there’s absolutely no reason for De Niro and Dana Delany turning up in this poor film. It’s not the worst film the aforementioned four actors (if one can call 50 Cent an actor) have made, but it’s still lousy, and the whole thing is obvious from the first flashback scene. Almost no one acquits themselves well here at all, with Robert Wisdom probably faring best, but his character ends up entirely forgotten about after a while. Mr. Half a Buck is far from the worst rapper-turned-actor, and if Ice T and Ice Cube can play cops, I have no issue with 50 doing it, too (70 year-old De Niro, however, is very hard to swallow as a cop). However, he’s a bit low-key and mumbly, and his character is extremely difficult to care about. He’s a little boring and forgettable, to be honest, but at least playing a delinquent turned cop, so he’s hardly miscast.

 

I mentioned “Street Kings” earlier, and both that film and this film show the talented Forest Whitaker at his worst. He may have looked embarrassed in “Battlefield Earth”, but playing a hopelessly drug-addicted, surly corrupt cop, he’s terribly hammy here. He plays it as so monumentally fucked up, it’s not credible that his character is still employed. How bad is he? 50 Cent acts him off the screen by considerably underplaying by comparison. Why didn’t the director rein the guy in? De Niro, meanwhile phones it in yet again, whilst Ms. Delany is so fleetingly used in the film one wonders why she bothered. Vinnie Jones has a funny, memorable cameo, but Wisdom is the only one here playing a flesh-and-blood character. He’s OK in the role, but OK is a billion times better than anyone or anything else here. He’s an honest cop who hates the ‘N’ word and tries to impart his knowledge onto his assigned rookie partner. I’m not sure if the character is entirely credible, or if I even approve of the things he says and does, but at least he’s a human being, unlike the rest of these creeps and crooks. Truth be told, though, the film botches its attempts at saying something about race, due to extreme heavy-handedness from Terrero and screenwriter L. Philippe Casseus, and that also includes the Wisdom character at times. Terrero also makes a couple of really irritating editing choices that annoy. The film also looks absolutely, unquestionably awful. Whilst I applaud DOP Igor Martinovic for not shaking the holy hell out of the character, he nonetheless gives us a washed-out, ugly, muted, and murky visage.

 

You don’t need to see this clich├ęd, subpar film, and the rather high-calibre cast needn’t have helped make it. Nothing to see here, move along…

 

Rating: D+

Review: Machete Kills!


When a madman revolutionary with a split personality (both played by Demian Bichir) threatens to blow up the White House armed with a bomb designed by nutjob arms dealer Voz (Mel Gibson), the American President (Charlie Sheen!) can rely on only ONE MAN: Machete (Danny Trejo). Michelle Rodriguez is back as Machete’s right-hand woman, Luz, whilst Amber Heard turns up as Miss San Antonio, a beauty queen who also happens to be Machete’s contact on this case. Sofia Vergara and her weaponised breasts turn up as a madam with a throng of deadly hookers. Lady Gaga, Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Antonio Banderas all combine to play a dangerous hitman targeting Bichir and constantly changing their appearance. William Sadler plays a sheriff, whilst the always welcome Tom Savini reprises his assassin role from the first film, but now apparently a reformed man.

 

Lightning doesn’t quite strike twice in this 2013 follow-up to the splat-tastic action/exploitation homage from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (“Desperado”, “Sin City”, “Planet Terror”). What we do have, however, is a film that is almost, if not quite as much fun. It gets pretty damn close, actually and the only thing really lacking here is freshness. So long as you understand the inevitability of that, if you liked the first film, you’ll like this one, too. I was hoping the title would be “Machete Don’t Text”, but this will do.

 

We open with a preview for “Machete Kills Again…in Space”, and if Rodriguez doesn’t make that film, I’ll be bitterly disappointed. Yes, even with Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Justin Bieber in the cast. Funny stuff. In the opening moments of the film proper we get decapitations aplenty, guys sliced in half, an original star taking one in the head, and 70-ish Danny Trejo kicking arse. Yes please. We also get a genuinely hilarious bit as Machete gets hung…but doesn’t flinch, let alone die. That’s one tough sumabitch, our Machete. Later on, Rodriguez outdoes the ‘guy has a fatal encounter with a chopper blade’ bit, as a guy gets sliced, diced, and splattered. Nice. He then proceeds to one-up himself by doing it again but adding an explosion. He then gives us basically the speedboat engine version of such a scene. The body count, as you would imagine is extremely high and nihilistic in the best way possible. Hell, I think this film might have the most decapitations of any film in history, yes even more than “Highlander” and “Sleepy Hollow”. You’ve gotta love Robert Rodriguez, not only are his films since “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” genuinely entertaining (I’m not a fan of “El Mariachi” or “Desperado”), but unlike Quentin Tarantino, he seems to refuse to grow up. I’m cool with that.

 

The cast this time out is truly insane, with special mention going to Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Charlie Sheen, and Demian Bichir. This for me is the best role of the truly stunning and sexy Amber Heard’s career to date. One could argue that she disappears for too long in the midsection, but as a beauty queen who is more than meets the eye, she’s terrific. Her beauty pageant speech is pretty funny, and I’d just like to say Fuck You, Johnny Depp. She does seem to have a no-nudity clause here, despite briefly showing the goods in previous films, but Rodriguez amusingly gets around this with a “3D” sex scene. I would’ve simply gone the CGI route again myself, I think filmmakers should always go that option when they encounter a prudish actress. Still, Heard otherwise really gets into the spirit of this, sensationally hot and good fun. Her best scenes are with Michelle Rodriguez, who like Heard ought to have been in more of the film. Nonetheless, the dialogue during their big shootout is hilariously awful, and acted by Heard and Rodriguez in that grey area of camp where you can’t quite tell if they’re in on it or not. And that’s not a complaint, either. Rodriguez has fun at both actresses expense with the best joke in the film as Rodriguez ends up jealous of Heard over Machete’s affections. Heard was known to be into chicks before becoming involved with Johnny Depp, and we all know Rodriguez seems to be of a similar persuasion, so it’s rather amusing for followers of trashy tabloid TV. For me, though, Sofia Vergara actually walks off with the whole film. She and her impenetrable accent are well-used here. She’s hot as hell and just plain likeable. Yes, there’s way too many clothed women working in a whorehouse, but Vergara shoots shuriken from her tits for crying out loud! Shuriken! Tits! Oh my God! She even gets to wear the crotch gun from Rodriguez’s “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn”. Yes, you read that correctly. Did I mention that she is also a literal man-eater here? It’s a sadistically funny performance from Vergara that might just turn a few heads. Rodriguez has a lot of fun with Charlie Sheen here, starting by billing him as ‘Introducing Carlos Estevez’. He plays the President of the United States, and more than just hilarious casting, he’s clearly enjoying himself on screen, and it infects the audience. He’s very funny, and very, very dubious. I mean, this is the seediest American President of all-time, and the film is almost worth seeing just for the scene where Sheen gets a late night phone call and reveals himself to be the Hugh Hefner of The White House. It plays out like a sight gag from a ZAZ spoof, ala “The Naked Gun!”.

 

Demian Bichir is an absolute hoot in one of the craziest roles in the film. He’s playing a schizoid with both a benign and evil persona inside of him. For the crazy side of his persona, I swear Mr. Bichir is channelling acclaimed Mexican actor/director Alfonso Arau, circa 1986, and it’s great to see him do something completely different, and completely silly. And yet, he effortlessly slides into the more benign persona when required, too. If anyone gives a genuinely good performance here, it’s probably Bichir, and he appears to be having a whale of a time, too. I also think it’s a genuinely cool idea to have Bichir unable to be killed or else a bomb will be set off, and then have a bunch of killers and assassins coming out to try and rub him out. It adds genuine tension to the film, albeit darkly comedic too. And then there’s the contribution by Mel Gibson as the film’s chief villain. He’s looking to be having fun here, and is a serious upgrade from Steven Seagal in the first film. Seagal was fun stunt casting, but Gibson gives a pretty good performance as well (Second behind Bichir only, with Heard coming in third), something one can’t say for Seagal. The funny thing about Gibson is that he appears to be playing Donald Pleasence as Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice”. Look at the scene where he shows Machete around his lair, it’s remarkably similar to a scene in “You Only Live Twice”. It’s genuinely amusing to see Gibson play a nutter with global destruction on his mind. He’s a good actor and undeniable movie star, if a highly questionable human being, going by what one sees in the media (Which may or may not be fair, I suppose). In smaller turns, William Sadler proves to be an improvement over Don Johnson in the first film playing much the same role, most of Antonio Banderas’ scenes are dubbed by Walton Goggins in a joke that also ropes in Cuba Gooding Jr., but doesn’t mine all that much humour. Lady Gaga deserves a mention for pretty much reminding one of John Waters and Russ Meyer flicks, as she admirably gets into the trashy spirit of things. It’s a good use of her, no doubt. The music score by Rodriguez and Carl Thiel is excellent, reminding me of the late Basil Poledouris (“Conan the Barbarian”, “Robocop”).

 

This is just a shade below the first film, but much in the same spirit and not too far off the same result. Trejo as always is spot-on, and we get good turns from Amber Heard, Mel Gibson, and especially Sofia Vergara and Demian Bichir. “Machete Kills Again…in Space” looks like it’ll be the best one yet, I can’t wait!

 

Rating: B-

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Cube Zero


Another group of people stuck inside a cube structure with no idea of how they got there or how to get out. Meanwhile, they are being observed by two menial workers (Zachary Bennett and David Huband) tasked with observing the people and on occasion ‘testing’ them. Michael Riley turns up as the creepy superior of the two workers, who comes down to see them when one of the men seems to be questioning his job.

 

The third film in the series (some believe it to be a prequel but if so, it’s not actually clear), and this 2004 entry from writer-director Ernie Barbarash (who co-scripted “Cube 2: Hypercube” and directed the cheap and lousy “Hardwired”) is pretty much a complete dud. The film starts out with an interesting split narrative but quickly squanders the opportunity to take this series in a new direction by merely using the split narrative as a different way to have one of the characters enter the cube. Other than that, it’s the same old thing, except this time it’s been done a lot worse.

 

We get an absolutely disgusting, skin-peeling opener in the best way possible, but it’s mostly downhill from there. Sure, it’s nice to have that different narrative arc, but like I said, it ends up a wasted opportunity. The only other difference between this film and the others is that it’s got a letters bent, instead of a numbers bent. Wow, how innovative and creative. I really thought this one might actually give us something new or more substantial to have made the journey worthwhile. Nope, it gives us even less than the previous two, if anything. It reminds me a little bit of TV’s “Lost”, only the shitty second season that seemed to be just pointless, maddening filler that added up to a whole lot of nothing (I loved the first season of that TV show more than almost anything, but the second season sucked, and the series finale was woefully inefficient, and only resolved the issues of the characters, not the mysteries of the island. Irrelevant sidebar over. Carry on!) Actor Michael Riley, meanwhile, seems to be under the impression that he’s John Glover, with a very mannered, but certainly interesting villainous performance. He’s no John Glover, but he can be thankful that he is still the best actor in the whole film. Aside from some deep blue filters, this one’s visual scheme is much more naturalistic than previous entries. It reminds me a tad of “Alien: Resurrection” in that sense.

 

The weakest entry by far, and it all ends on a whimper. Underwhelming in the extreme, this series started off relatively promisingly, but has ultimately been one huge prick tease. I no longer care if they were to make another film, I don’t trust that we’d get anymore answers.

 

Rating: C-

Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: Lars and the Real Girl


Ryan Gosling stars as Lars, who is deeply troubled, painfully socially awkward, and has started up a new relationship with a sex doll he names Bianca (!), that he has ordered on the internet. His sweet-natured sister-in-law Emily Mortimer will probably regret that Lars has finally accepted one of her many invitations to dinner, bringing Bianca with him. Lars’ considerably more stable brother Paul Schneider can barely contain his disdain and bemusement at having to treat Bianca as ‘real’. But Lars (who lives in their garage, by the way) is obviously not in a good place, mentally or emotionally, and the couple suggest he see a doctor. The doctor (played by Patricia Clarkson) explains the deal to them; Bianca is real to Lars and until he overcomes whatever is holding him back from being a normal, active member of society that he used to be, they had best just go along with the delusion. Anything else would risk an even bigger decline in his mental health. There’s really nothing else they can do except wait for whatever this is to pass. Besides, they’re in love- isn’t that sweet? Meanwhile, Clarkson finds a way to have regular chats with Lars (who hates to be touched, by the way) to help him, without him realising he’s her patient.

 

Before long, the whole small town they live in are accepting Bianca as a part of their community, some more enthusiastically than others. Everyone clearly likes Lars, and wants to see him get through this. Some like, Lars’ pretty office co-worker Kelli Garner like him a little too much, which must really be painful considering he’d much rather be with an inanimate sex doll than actual human beings.

 

This 2007 film from Aussie-born director Craig Gillespie (who went on to direct the OK “Fright Night” remake) and screenwriter Nancy Oliver (who has written episodes of “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood”) does one seemingly impossible thing and nearly achieves a second. Firstly, it takes a plot involving a sex doll and manages to create a PG-rated film out of it. I held off seeing the film for so long mainly because I felt the material simply couldn’t work in a PG-restricted environment (The Japanese certainly wouldn’t have gone the PG-route with it!). I was wrong. Secondly, it very nearly manages to take its rather bizarre (and frankly not terribly believable) premise and make it seem truly plausible. It nearly gets there, but there’s a moment or two that rang false for me. Having said that, this is relatively grounded under the circumstances, and quite smart. I still think it should’ve been a lot kinkier, but for what it’s aiming to be, if you can just go with it, it’s really something and played with absolute sincerity.

 

Some people will reject it outright, but with a few reservations, I was pretty much won over by this one. And it wasn’t easy, either. I mean, Ryan Gosling playing a guy who needs a sex doll? Isn’t he meant to be the sexiest man alive? That’s not an easy sell. Although I’m not a Ryan Gosling fan, I have to say a moustachioed, slightly heavier Gosling immediately sells his casting. I’ve never seen him like this before, no self-confidence, twitchy, socially awkward. In fact, he’s a little like another Ryan that I know. Yep, just compared myself to Ryan Gosling, and y’know what? I’m hotter than he is in this film, I think I can safely say. That’s a small victory, but damn you I’m taking it.

 

It’s an interesting character this Lars. Everyone in this small town seems to like Lars and try their best to be nice to him, but he can’t quite feel comfortable enough around people to accept their kindness and respond in kind. Yet he’s normal enough to hold down an office job and communicate when need be. He’s just awkward and it’s clearly due to some kind of trauma he has previously experienced. It’s Gosling’s best performance to date, he doesn’t look down on the material or his character at all, which is key.

 

It’s also a film that, whilst playing it all with sincerity, understands how comical this all seems. The fact that the doll looks like a hooker version of Angelina Jolie is priceless. The scene where Lars first brings her to dinner with his brother and sister-in-law is funny stuff, though there’s a very obvious pain beneath the surface that slowly reveals itself. Lars is a traumatised guy who has crawled into a shell, a kind of fantasy that everyone around him must treat as absolutely normal, lest it might set him off. Having said that, I’m not entirely certain the doctor played by Patricia Clarkson is entirely credible. The actress tries her best to make the character sound sensible, and gives a nice and rather empathetic performance, one of her best. She’s right actually, the doll is real, it obvious has a physical existence as well as the ‘reality’ Lars himself seems to afford it in his troubled mind, and so long as Lars is troubled, the doll’s not going anywhere. But as for her specific methods for dealing with this issue, yeah…I don’t know how much stock I’d place in taking it too seriously. I doubt doctors suggest indulging in the patient’s delusion, but it pretty much works here because the film is more concerned with compassion for Lars rather than judgement or deep psychological study. So I pretty much let that one slide after a while.

 

The real issue I had with the film comes later, when the townsfolk decide to humour Lars and go along with the idea that the doll is a real person. I’m an atheist and even I have a problem with a sex doll being allowed to attend church. It’s a SEX doll. Its purpose is simulated sex. What would Jesus do? He’d take one of those nails he’s been pinned to and prick a hole in the damn thing, that’s what Jesus would do. This town the film is set in is not just a small town but a religious one. If they’re not about to accept homosexuals, why the fuck would they accept an inanimate sex doll? And then the doll also volunteers at the hospital, reading to children. Wow. I get it, they’re trying to ween Lars off the doll, but the spell gets broken with stuff like this. And that’s the problem with a film that tries to make something silly seem somewhat ‘real’ or plausible, even if it’s only real within its own self-contained fictional world. The Patricia Clarkson character is at least credible within the film’s own world, if not ours. She’s as real as she needs to be in order for the story to work. But a sex doll reading (albeit a ‘speaking book’) to children? It’s the dumbest thing in an otherwise pretty smart, and fairly acceptable story. I particularly liked the character of the brother, played by Paul Schneider. He feels embarrassed about playing along and doesn’t understand what has happened to his brother. Yet he obviously loves his brother and feels really bad about having neglected him by moving away years ago when perhaps he needed him most.

 

This film could’ve gone so wrong, and I do have some reservations about it. However, it’s mostly really well-done, and the performances are spot-on. The themes may be familiar, but the film is otherwise pretty damn original and pretty damn weird. It’s not nearly as kinky as the basic premise sounds however, and is really quite a sweet and sincere film. It’s the damndest thing. Gosling is excellent and remarkably free of ego.

 

Rating: B-

Review: Thunderbolt


Jackie Chan plays a mechanic, occasional race car driver and reluctant snitch for the police on illegal street racers. Mostly, though, he’s a humble family man, and it’s his beloved family that become the target of villainous German crim and illegal street racer Thorsten Nickel. He kidnaps Chan’s sisters and forces him to compete in a grand prix race in Japan (!) in order to win his family back.

 

The story goes that Jackie Chan injured his leg during the filming of “Rumble in the Bronx”, and thus used doubles for most of his fights/stunts in this 1995 film from director Gordon Chan (Jet Li’s “Fist of Legend”, Chan’s “The Medallion”) and his co-writers Hing-Ka Chan and Wai Chung Kwok. I don’t know if Jackie was contractually obligated to do this film already when he sustained the injury, but if not, he shouldn’t have bothered. Not only is this an entirely tedious, lousy excuse for an action film, but since the highlight of Jackie’s films are the usually crazy stunts/fights, and he’s not actually doing most of the work himself…the film is actually kinda worthless to be honest. The fact that Jackie doesn’t dub his own voice in the English version of the film (Even in scenes where he was clearly speaking English on set!), coupled with the direct-to-DVD release outside of China only add to the sense that this film wasn’t necessary, isn’t much good, and no one involved seems to care all that much. Certainly the screenwriters didn’t seem to care enough to make their ridiculous plot make much sense (Just read the plot synopsis again and try not to roll your eyes at it. Why is the bad guy doing what he is doing? Who knows?!).

 

I really don’t know what the thought process behind having Jackie Chan star in something like this was. Sure, the film contains some martial arts, but the last twenty minutes in particular is almost exclusively focussed on car racing. Although pretty well-photographed (by the whopping six credited DOPs!) and attractive, it’s completely unengaging and bloody ridiculously over-the-top. That’s mostly because the tedium that precedes it ended up completely disengaging me from the film. You certainly can’t get into the fights (which are just OK at best anyway), you’ll be too busy noticing all of the close-ups that don’t show Jackie’s face…because he’s not the one doing most of the work. You’re kept at a frustrating distance, especially when you can see that the stunt double has a different haircut. In one scene, Chan smashes a bunch of pachinko machines. For some reason. Feel free to email me if you can work it out. For a guy who is a martial artist by way of slapstick comedian, the setting and his injury really do hamper Chan, rendering him useless in this film. He does sing the opening song, though and it’s a truly fucking terrible 80s canto-pop attempt at a “Rocky”-esque inspirational song ala ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘You’re the Best Around’, but pop-ier. Speaking of all things 80s, the whole film looks and plays like it came from 1985, not 1995. It’s bizarrely retro-looking, and not in a fun way. It looks cheap and horribly dated. At least with “The Accidental Spy” (review forthcoming…sometime…I promise!) you could blame a lot of the problems on a re-cut version of the film that completely changed the storyline and tone. Here, though, the fights aren’t the only problem so you can’t chalk everything up to Chan’s injury.

 

The film is nicely bloody at times, but mostly just bloody boring. Even car enthusiasts will likely have a hard time staying awake in this one. It’s all played so glumly and seriously, and Chan himself gives a boring, non-committed performance throughout. In no way is he used to his best advantage here. It’s no fun, and lethargically paced for added irony. If you skip one Jackie Chan film, well skip three; “The Protector”, “City Hunter”, and this silly tedium.

 

Rating: D+